Maryland 58, Alabama 57 at Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Tuesday (NIT quarterfinals)
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"To hold on and get it is big," Turgeon said after only his team's third road win this season and fourth since he came to Maryland. "It's hard to win in college basketball and this time of year is really hard. For us to do that, we had a lot of guts. We had a lot of guts defensively and it was good to see. A big game -- a big win."
Whatever Maryland accomplished in beating Duke twice, in reaching the semifinals of the ACC tournament, in winning its first two NIT games, what the Terps did in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night is something they had not done in Turgeon's first two seasons in College Park.
They beat a good team on the road.
Whatever happens in New York next week, Maryland (25-12) can take momentum into the offseason, into the summer, and into next season. By holding on to the beat the Crimson Tide -- and coming oh-so-close to another crushing road loss -- Turgeon's team is still playing.
"Still excited, but unfinished business," said junior guard Pe'Shon Howard. "We want to win a championship. It's just another step. We still have two games, so we can't just be happy to be at Madison Square Garden. We want to win the whole thing."
Making the NIT is a positive step for some teams, and it was a tiny one for the Terps. Beating Denver in the second round by coming from nine down with five guards was a little bigger step. Getting to Madison Square Garden for a tournament that used to be a big deal is even bigger.
Garden party for Len?
Alex Len started his sophomore year with a breakthrough performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., a 23-point, 12-rebound, four-block game in a three-point loss to then defending national champion Kentucky.
While the outcome of that game turned out to be less impressive given the Wildcats’ struggles this season, the 7-foot-1 center from the Ukraine still did it against Nerlens Noel, a 7-foot freshman who was projected to be the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft until tearing his anterior cruciate ligament this season.
Despite an erratic season in which he disappeared for games -- if not weeks -- at a time, Len is still believed to be a top 10 draft choice and a sure-fire lottery pick. A couple of big games to end the season on a stage like Madison Square Garden could put him into the Top 5.
Len is still frustrating to watch, let alone coach -- dominant one moment, dormant the next. Though he gave Alabama a chance to win the game on its last possession by blowing a pair of free throws in the waning seconds, he certainly did enough to help the Terps beat the Tide.
“This is a big win for our program and I'm excited to go play in Madison Square Garden, the best arena in the world,” said Len, who led the Terps with 15 points and 13 rebounds. “We're looking forward to it. ... We played tough, we played strong. I think it's our best win on the road this season.”
Allen makes contribution
Seth Allen sat with his broken hand in a sling, but the precocious freshman guard made a contribution by encouraging Howard to take some shots.
It started a few hours before the game at the shootaround, where Allen told Howard he couldn’t leave until he hit five outside shots in a row.